Israel, the US: Catching flak.
Also: Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Ukraine, Russia, India and Myanmar.
ISRAEL. UNITED STATES. Catching flak.
Biden’s support to Netanyahu is incurring costs.
Antony Blinken will visit Israel and Jordan, the State Department said Wednesday, after Jordan recalled its Israel envoy amid rising Gazan casualties. A poll on Tuesday showed Joe Biden's support among Arab Americans had fallen to 17%.
INTELLIGENCE. Beyond blame from the international community, Biden’s support for Israel is incurring political risk. Should traditional Democrat supporters stay home in November, or even opt for Donald Trump (as 40% of Arab Americans indicated in the same survey), Biden’s re-election will be even harder. Wednesday’s evacuation of some US nationals from Gaza came as a relief, but, like Kabul, voters will ultimately remember the losses, not the wins.
FOR BUSINESS. All powers must make hard choices and US support for Israel is bipartisan, but House Speaker Mike Johnson is narrowing Biden’s options in other ways. Linking Israel support with IRS cuts will fail, but other legislative pairings, such as on migration, might not. Approving these could further damage Biden’s polls on the left, down 11%, according to Gallup. On the right, Johnson could inflict more damage through a subpoena on Biden’s son, Hunter.
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YEMEN. Sanaa’s little helpers.
The Houthis are more a problem for Saudi Arabia than Israel.
Yemen's Houthi rebel group on Tuesday claimed responsibility for a series of missile and drone attacks against Israel for the first time. Last week, Houthis reportedly killed four Saudi soldiers despite having joined peace talks in Riyadh.
INTELLIGENCE. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, and the Shiite militias in Iraq, the Houthis need to show support for their comrades in Hamas. Yet ultimately, they are causing the most strife for neighbouring Saudi Arabia, which indicates a renewed tension between Riyadh and Tehran. While both sides restored diplomatic ties this year and have publicly united to condemn Israel, Hamas’s attacks have upset a precarious balance between the two regional powers.
FOR BUSINESS. Riyadh doesn’t want Hamas to gain power in the West Bank. Tehran doesn’t want Hamas’s defeat to give Riyadh more power in the Levant (particularly if it involves a delayed deal with Israel). Reengaging the Houthis distracts Riyadh and opens a new point of leverage. A continuation of Yemen’s civil war is not good for Saudi Arabia, but so far it hasn’t hurt its nascent tourism or diversification program (including a glitzy boxing match on Saturday).
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AFGHANISTAN. PAKISTAN. November rain.
Islamabad exacerbates a global migration crisis.
Pakistani soldiers began to detain and deport Afghan refugees on Wednesday after a deadline passed for 1.7 million undocumented migrants to leave. Kabul on Tuesday said only around 60,000 Afghans had returned since September.
INTELLIGENCE. Many of the migrants would sooner chance their luck on a long trip to the West than return to Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. Yet Europe is hardening its border, and the US is facing record inflows from Mexico. Slovakia on Wednesday said it would deploy its army to the border. Nordic countries on Tuesday said they would cooperate on a returns policy. Canada meanwhile has announced a slowdown in migration targets amid a housing crunch.
FOR BUSINESS. Pakistan’s move is primarily a problem for Afghanistan and neighbouring countries, but it is also a problem for European politicians struggling with existing flows. New legislation is being considered in Germany to stiffen people smuggling penalties.The Czech government narrowly survived a no-confidence vote last month over migration. And where mainstream politicians aren’t dealing with the issue, far-right parties are rising or being formed.
UKRAINE. RUSSIA. Massive attacks.
Kyiv is under fire from both Moscow and its friends.
Ukraine on Wednesday said Russia attacked 118 towns over the previous day, while Russia released a recording of Italy’s Giorgia Meloni admitting there was "tiredness" over Ukraine. Kyiv on Tuesday denied claims its cause was lost.
INTELLIGENCE. Kyiv is in damage control following frank admissions in Time from Volodymr Zelensky’s inner circle. While Ukraine’s urgent need for more arms and funding may tilt Congress in the coming weeks, it could also bolster Republican sceptics who are urging Kyiv to sue for peace. Moscow is increasing pressure in the east. In addition to rising air assaults, it is making steady (if costly) progress in Donetsk and seems closer to seizing the town of Avdiivka.
FOR BUSINESS. The war could turn, but momentum is beginning to favour Moscow. Russia's economy is also holding up. Factory activity continued to rise in October, according to S&P Global, while capital controls have halted a fall in the ruble. In the long term, Russia's economy risks over-reliance on oil, the military and China, but its decoupling from the West appears successful. Ukraine’s reconstruction is estimated to cost between $411 billion and $1 trillion.
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INDIA. MYANMAR. Massif attacks.
Violence extends through Southeast Asia’s highlands.
Authorities in India's Manipur state reintroduced curfews on Wednesday after renewed fighting between police and ethnic militias. On Monday, coordinated attacks were launched by a new ethnic rebel alliance in neighbouring Myanmar.
INTELLIGENCE. Delhi is perennially worried about violence in its remote northeast, where borders with China and Myanmar are unsettled and unprotected. But it is particularly worried ahead of next week’s elections in Manipur’s neighbouring state of Mizoram. Beijing is also worried about instability on its border. It sent its public security minister to Myanmar this week amid fears a $1 billion Belt and Road project in Shan state could be harmed by rising violence.
FOR BUSINESS. Events in Manipur and Myanmar’s post-coup civil war have flared up recently, but conflict across the so-called Zomia plateau of Southeast Asia – from Tibet to Vietnam – has been a constant for centuries. Whether under civilians or the military, Myanmar’s writ seldom extends far past its lowlands. In India, democracy has failed to quell separatist demands. Control of the uplands matters to Asia’s vast watersheds and half the world’s population.